Prevention of antimicrobial prescribing among infants following maternal vaccination against respiratory syncytial virus

Joseph A. Lewnard, Louis F. Fries, Iksung Cho, Janice Chen, Ramanan Laxminarayan

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23 Scopus citations


Reductions in antimicrobial consumption are needed to mitigate the burden of antimicrobial resistance. Vaccines may have an important role to play in reducing antimicrobial consumption by preventing infections for which treatment is often prescribed, whether appropriately or inappropriately. However, limited understanding of the volume of antimicrobial treatment attributable to specific pathogens—and to viruses, in particular—presently hinders efforts to prioritize vaccines with the greatest potential to reduce antimicrobial consumption. In a double-blind trial undertaken across 11 countries, infants born to mothers who were randomized to receive an experimental vaccine against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) experienced 12.9% (95% CI: 1.3 to 23.1%) lower incidence of antimicrobial prescribing over the first 3 mo of life than infants whose mothers were randomized to receive placebo. Vaccine efficacy against antimicrobial prescriptions associated with acute lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs) was 16.9% (95% CI: 1.4 to 29.4%). Over the first 3 mo of life, maternal vaccination prevented 3.6 antimicrobial prescription courses for every 100 infants born in high-income countries and 5.1 courses per 100 infants in low-@@@@@and middle-income countries, representing 20.2 and 10.9% of all antimicrobial prescribing in these settings, respectively. While LRTI episodes accounted for 69 to 73% of all antimicrobial prescribing prevented by maternal vaccination, striking vaccine efficacy (71.3% [95% CI: 28.1 to 88.6%]) was also observed against acute otitis media–associated antimicrobial prescription among infants in high-income countries. Our findings implicate RSV as a cause of substantial volumes of antimicrobial prescribing among young infants and demonstrate the potential for prevention of such prescribing through use of maternal vaccines against RSV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2112410119
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number12
StatePublished - Mar 22 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


  • Antimicrobial prescribing
  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Randomized controlled trial
  • Respiratory syncytial virus
  • Vaccination


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